Decision on Araluen’s emergency gates to go to a vote

Decision on Araluen’s emergency gates to go to a vote

Brian Betts, Barry Porter and Pam Edwards with other concerned residents. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Covert cameras, traffic counters and a trial to leave the emergency evacuation route gates unlocked in Araluen until the end of the fire season could be on the cards should council vote in support of the idea at next week’s council meeting. 

The City of Armadale’s Corporate Services Committee discussed the agenda item earlier this week which suggested unlocking the fire emergency gates at Armenti and Wymond roads until March 31, 2020 on a trial basis in a bid to gauge whether the routes were used appropriately. 

The committee voted unopposed in support of the trial and the recommendation will now be taken to full council to vote at the ordinary council meeting on December 16.

At the committee meeting chief executive Joanne Abbiss said the idea came about after she was made aware in her first week in the job that the gates had not been opened on a very high fire danger day. 

Currently the gates are to be opened by city staff and are only to be opened on days designated as “very high” or above fire risk days as defined by the Bureau of Meteorology. 

A number of people in the public gallery also raised concerns about the need for the gates to be opened for other emergency services such as police and ambulance, who they said have been directed that way by their GPS maps and have then been forced to use bolt cutters to cut the locks to obtain entry in an emergency situation. 

Resident Barry Porter said the issue surrounding a second access to the estate has been ongoing for in excess of 20 years and it has finally been admitted by council that they do have a legal obligation to facilitate a second access. 

“Whilst this is being negotiated and determined, the opening of Wymond Road during the fire season is a sensible move in the right direction,” he said. 

“Anything that decreases risk is a step in the right direction.” 

If approved, additional signage will be installed advising residents and road users that the routes are for emergency evacuation purposes only and that the road is not to be used as a through road. 

Covert cameras and traffic counters would also be installed to monitor usage.